Better students or grade inflation?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education Archives' started by HMM, Feb 23, 2007.

  1. HMM

    HMM Cohort

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    Feb 23, 2007

    Reports: Grades improving despite weak test scores

    "...
    The transcript study shows high school students are earning more credits, taking more challenging courses and getting higher grade-point averages than in the past.

    In 2005, high school graduates had an overall grade-point average just shy of 3.0 -- or about a B. That has gone up from a grade-point average of about 2.7 in 1990.

    It is unclear whether student performance has improved or whether grade inflation or something else might be responsible, the report said.
    ..."

    I don't know.

    What do you think?
     
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  3. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Feb 23, 2007

    Inflation. Teachers are just so thankful that they at least some students with the desire to succeed that they over-reward them. IMHO
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    SAT scores haven't gone up; they've been "recentered" for years now to draw attention away from the fact.

    I say grade inflation is the reason. Otherwise, scores would be up on standardized measures, not down.
     
  5. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Well, it could also be that students are either blowing off on the tests (admittedly, slightly improbable with SAT) or aren't learning/applying the set of skills that makes for SAT success...

    Isn't it the case that, in many schools, AP courses confer extra grade points on one's GPA, so that it's possible to earn rather more than a 4.0? (I've always found this just slightly bizarre.)
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    It doesn't happen in my school; honors courses are weighted the same as others. But it happens a LOT in other schools.

    As to the SAT: why would scores drop? If anything, the directions have gotten easier with the new SAT: no analogies, no Quantitative Comparisons. If we assume that the population is roughly the same as it has been for the past few decades (and that's where the argument may falter), then why haven't scores at least remained steady?
     
  7. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    So sue me: I was trying to be optimistic. (Against my grain, I might add.)

    I myself miss the analogies: there's a pretty important set of skills there.
     
  8. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    'Cause kids have changed. They now think they shouldn't have to work hard for anything. A broad statement, I know.
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I was thinking of that. But you still haven't written that best seller (or have you???), so I'm not sure I will.
     
  10. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Shallow Pockets R Us.
     
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    That's another form of our motto: Kids R Us.
     
  12. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    And it only gets worse as they get older...
     
  13. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    At my school we weight GPAs so that the person top in the class is not someone in comprehensive classes. What are your toughts on this. I am completely for it becuase why should a child in comprehsnive classes recive as much recognition as those in AP and Honors classes?
     
  14. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I suppose that might depend: can anyone take AP/honors classes who wants to, or does a kid have to get permissions/recommendations?
     
  15. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    And what about the kid in the school where Honors English is scheduled at the same time as Journalism?
     
  16. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    When you think about it, though, doesn't it make sense?? The kids are taking more challenging-- and more varied courses. Those things tend not to show up on most standardized tests.

    So a kid who is taking Calc B/C is theoretically no better prepared for the exam than a bright peer taking Precalculus... the advanced Calculus material simply isn't on the test.

    And a kid taking AP bio has no advantage-- that's not on the test either. Sure, he may get AP credit, but that's not the test they're talking about.

    Add to that the fact that college has become much more the norm in the last 17 years. So kids who traditionally might have chosen another path after high school are now going for at least an Associate's Degree. These lower-average kids are now part of the testing pool, where they might not have been before. Yet there's no way to determine the relative difficulty of the courses they're taking, so it's possible that they're skating through Senior year taking easy courses-- and doing well.

    And the report mentions the ability to convert a decimal. If they're not allowed to use a calculator, let's not even discuss the last time these kids had to do that math. How many of us (who don't actively teach the topic) would have difficulty with it?
     
  17. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Here's the reasoning in my school:

    We have 3 different academic tracks. (not what they're called, but it's what they are.) Kids are tracked according to their test results before entering the school, and occasionally the track is changed if the situation demands it.

    Every kid in our building takes basically 4 years of everything. It's college prep, even for the lower level kids. Admission is VERY competitive, so these kids aren't the bottom of the academic barrel by a long shot.

    If a kid is working to the best of his ability, his grades should reflect that. So an 80 in Calculus reflects the fact that a very bright kid probably could be working a bit harder. An 80 in Senior Trigonometry -- our lowest Senior math course-- reflects pretty much the same thing about a kid who isn't as academically talented.

    Our graduation speakers are voted on by the Senior class. (Technically, the Seniors are "consulted" to prevent them from doing something stupid.) Inevitably, they choose the #1 and #2 kids from the honors track.

    The kids transcript reflects both the track and the name of the course. After 20 years in existance (yes, we're really just a baby school:eek: ) the colleges have a good idea of what our grades represent.

    It wouldn't work for everyone, but it works for us.
     
  18. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Feb 24, 2007

    See at my school courses for Math and English can vary much more than that. For example, a senior math student may only be taking Geomerty, while another takes AP Calculus.
     
  19. dendrite

    dendrite Rookie

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    So true! My students' mouths hang open in disbelief every fall when I explain that if they do everything they have been directed to do on an assignment, they have earned a C. They think that meeting all of the requirements should garner an A.
     
  20. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I make sure and explain this to parents at back to school night, too. I just typed up my instructions for their book reports. This time they are going to have to hand in all the preliminary work (planning, rough draft, editing, final draft), too. The kids who normally just write something a half hour before bedtime the night before will not be happy.
     
  21. vaineglory

    vaineglory New Member

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    That is a broad statement. I certainly hope you aren't still teaching if you thinking so poorly of all children.
     
  22. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    You are new here, vaineglory, aren't you? If you weren't, you'd know 'daisy better than that.
     
  23. vaineglory

    vaineglory New Member

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    Well, it says it under my name, doesn't it? ;)

    I'm sorry, but when someone says something like that, it sounds absolutely awful, not to mention a tad bit, well, ridiculous.
     
  24. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I think the culture that kids live in today is having a terrible impact on their willingness to undertake complicated tasks. And, yes, I did admit it was a generalization. After all, there are many, many bright students who work their hearts out. Of course there are. It's the average and lower students who I worry about.

    I certainly am still teaching and I am a highly respected teacher. You are entitled to your opinion, but I find it rather presumptuous that you would post such a strong condemnation when you haven't had time to know much about me.
     
  25. Docere

    Docere Rookie

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    I hate to say it, but I think it's mostly grade inflation. However, I do see a lot of very motivated students who do work really hard at school, so hopefully it is close to equally both.

    At my school, if a student takes a Honors class, the grade they earn is weighted.
    A = 5.0
    B = 4.0
    C = 3.0
    D= 1.0
    F = 0

    So there are students with GPAs higher than 4.0. But it's completely canceled out, because in the end, all the universities in our state don't look at weighed grades. If someone had a 5.0 average, a university would see it as just a regular 4.0 average. I don't understand why we have weighed grades in the first place.
     
  26. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    My high school up here in IL weighted grades for honors and AP classes the same way Docere mentioned. I think the reasoning behind it is to "reward" students for taking harder classes that actually require work instead of letting them get easy A's without doing anything in classes that are too easy for them. Sure, the knowledge from these classes should be its own reward... but there are FAR too many students who wouldn't take them because they would RISK getting something other than an A, which would "ruin" their "all-important GPA..." so, consequently, they weight the grades.

    For me, it was freeing... the first and only C on a report card in my life was in an honors math class sophomore or junior year. I would have been DEVISTATED because I had worked so hard for it, but that woudl have really impacted my GPA. But since it still counted as a B, it didn't devistate me as much.

    Still, a 4.0 GPA wasn't the top of the class... there are folks (me included) who took classes as electives senior year BECAUSE they were honors/AP and not because they were of particular interest.... but I wouldn't have taken Poly Sci or Economics otherwise, and I'm glad I took them in retrospect. (othewise I would have done Psych, which really would have been the ame thing I'd get again in college...)

    Is it a good practice? I think it has its up and down sides....
     
  27. dendrite

    dendrite Rookie

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    I believe that some of us have perceived a change in students' motivation partly because of our own proximity to WWII and the "Great" Depression. My mother told stories about the hard work and sacrifice essential to living through those dark periods in our history until I thought my ears would fall off. She had many classmates who simply didn't show up to class anymore because they had died of polio or other sicknesses we don't even think about today. Also, kids, who had no rights "back in the day", learned to tough it out and claw their way to the top. Kids looked up to heros and sought to follow in their footsteps.
    In our eagerness to make sure that every child succeeds, I find that I often care more about a student's grade and future than he or she does. I guess our youth (in general), responding to societal trends, have gotten a little bit soft. My discomfort lies in how great a part I play in that. I seek the fine line between coddling them and throwing them to the wolves.
    So, yes, kids have changed due, in part, to societal changes.
     
  28. misterdub

    misterdub New Member

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    My administrators are starting to push us to have all of our kids get either A's or B's. That sounds silly. But they want to see that all kids are getting everything somehow and showing that they've understood new paterial.
     
  29. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    See, neither TG nor 'Daisy are the ones I see looking a tad ridiculous here.

    Read some of the posts by 'Daisy. As you can see under her name, there are quite a few from which to choose. You'll see that she is indeed still teaching. As you read more, you'll see, as we have, just how wonderful a teacher she is.
     
  30. HMM

    HMM Cohort

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    That would be great is everyone got A's and B's...as long as they earned them.

    This is already happening. I teach college kids and they tell me all the time how they got A's in high school but now they struggle to get C's. Now when students tell me that they received an A in a class in HS this tells me nothing.
     
  31. CmsTigerGuy

    CmsTigerGuy Rookie

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    I feel the same way about my seventh graders. Parents are forever telling me that little Susie was a straight-A student in elementary school--naturally, the implication is that Susie's current problems are either my fault or the school's, completely discounting the fact that Susie has chosen to complete only three assignments out of twelve for the grading period.

    But I suspect that upper elementary teachers hear about how little Susie was an honor student in second and third grade, and high school teachers hear about her immaculate middle school transcript. It's gotten to the point where I have a hard time believing a word uttered by students OR their parents.
     
  32. HMM

    HMM Cohort

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    Good point.

    I totally agree.
     

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